WHY IT’S HARD TO MAKE FRIENDS IN A NEW COUNTRY

I moved to Denmark with my fiancė and I’m happy we did. We met in Greenland working at Thule AB; I was a bartender and he was working on the Danish civilian side. We moved to Germany afterward, where I continued working as a bartender for the military and him doing the same work in Greenland. Making friends in Germany was easy because I made friends with my coworkers who were American, like me.

I grew up as a military brat and the one and only mission that the U.S. Military asks of the children is to make friends. There are a lot of “tips and tricks” they teach children to make friends, and schools at some of the bases offer a buddy system that assigns you a friend from the moment you land at a new base. It was important for us to have friends when we first start at a new station because we, as the children, were the focus of the home. Being able to have friends helped keep that normality of life. So growing up with all that, I was pretty confident when it came to making new friends because,

  1. I have friends, so A+ on history and experience
  2. I was taught how to make friends in a new environment
  3. Being a bartender, it’s almost natural to make friends
  4. I have been told I have a great personality (truth)
  5. I’m hilarious

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With those reasons, it was in the least of my worries to make friends when we moved to Denmark. Fast forward: boy was I wrong. Having my partner gone overseas to work for long periods of time, I eventually got lonely. I didn’t have anybody to talk to and I started to want to go out and explore this new country. And it made me realize that I, in fact, didn’t know how to make new friends without help! When I was a kid, I had another person assigned to me as a friend and I was constantly submerged into a group of people. At work, making friends with your coworkers just happens without you even realizing it, especially when working at a place like a club. Now with nothing at my disposal as a stepping stone, I found it incredibly difficult to make new friends.

I never realized that the friendship culture could be different in different cultural settings and I didn’t know how to understand it. I do have one Danish friend that I met back in Greenland who I see once every three months. She lives near Copenhagen and I live in Jutland. I value my friendship with her because for one, she is a great friend and also because she gives me all these new insights on “how to’s” in social environments. However, when I looked up  “how to make friends in Denmark,” guess what came up first? That Denmark is the world’s worst country in which to make friends! I felt 100% discouraged. The search result blabbed on into my face and said that by the time Danes are in their 30’s, they are hustling in their jobs, have their families, and kind of have their friend group. Danes are not looking for short-term friendships, they’re committed to long-term relationships with deep friendship value. Great, I am too, but where do I start? How do I meet people?

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One day, I thought that there had to be something in the app store. There has to be. And there it was, our favorite, the Hey! VINA app. I downloaded it immediately and I was so grateful that it was active in Europe! I was surprised that there were so many people who were in the exact same situation as me. People moving to a foreign country, far away from the comforts of home, to be with a partner, and with the problem of the constant shadow of loneliness. Not loneliness because of the absence of a partner, but loneliness because you miss doing certain things and the familiarity of a good friendship.

It’s still hard trying to make friends; I don’t have friends in my town. Yet. I don’t know when or if it’s ever going to happen. I still have my days where I’m completely discouraged, but do I still go outside and try and talk to some people? Yes! And I know from experience that, of course, it’s going to take time. Time to get to know my new country, time to learn the language, and time to get to know the friendship culture here in Denmark. And I am proud to announce that I am sooo willing to go for it!

Did you know that when you upgrade your VINA profile and become a VINA VIP, you can teleport to anywhere in the world and start meeting friends before you travel somewhere?! Or, when you arrive, you can join local communities like New in Town or Jetsetters and meet your girl gang that way🌟

A LETTER TO MY BFF

Hey,

I don’t really know how to start off one of these open letters, but I’ll do my best because I have a lot I want to tell you. I know that we don’t talk as much as we used to and there are many miles, an ocean and a continent that make it hard for us to grab a cup of coffee to catch up. We get angry with each other sometimes, which helps mute our conversations and desire to actually want to talk to each other. We both have matured into new adventures; yours is starting a new chapter with many exciting journeys, and I can’t wait for you to tell me about them. You’re serving in our military following your parents’ footsteps, and you’re achieving that moment where you can anchor your roots to find out where you stand. I’m in Scandinavia, expanding my family which makes me think back on all the relationships that have helped me get to where I am today.

You are, by far, the most significant friendship that has helped me shape who I am. Like I said earlier, we get into arguments where sometimes we don’t speak to each other for days, weeks, months, and even for two years that one time. We have mutual friends that shared our successes with each other, but we have come back. Apologizing and growing to become better friends which in turn, helped us become better women. We share a lot of memories together because we are that close. Yes, a few bad ones, a sprinkle of weird ones, but a ton of great ones. Looking back at our relationship, I don’t think I have actually taken the time to thank you for all the things you have done for me. You were there during my dark pits of depression, encouraging me to get out of bed when I would stay there for weeks at a time. You checked in on me for my mental health and in those moments you saved parts of me I didn’t think I wanted. When I didn’t have a place to stay, you and your family welcomed me into your home, offering me shelter. You knew of my insecurities about having a plus-size figure and encouraged me to accept myself and recognize my self-worth. The foundation that you helped lay down for me to be comfortable with myself is still here, more alive than ever.

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Sometimes, growing up bums me out. I wish we were back in high school in Okinawa where we were able to hang out all the time. Where life was so much simpler. Growing up with you and having you in my life helped plant my feet into who I wanted to become. You were there when a lot of people didn’t want to be, and some of those people were family. I wish my vocabulary was vast enough to express how thankful I am for you. I knew that some women have great friendships to the point where they feel like sisters toward one another. I once foolishly thought, “how ridiculous” —but you are a sister to me; not through blood, but through this bond we created. I’m so incredibly excited for what the future has in store for you, because I know it’s going to be fantastic. I hope we can grab that cup of coffee soon.

With all my heart,

Your friend

A friendship like this is just a tap away, vinas. Get the Hey! VINA app now to find your future girl gang!